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The Videoguillotine in the Tretjakov Gallery

exhibitions



For the first time in its history the Tretjakov Gallery exhibits videoart. The Gallery has a justification-the video art, brought to Moscow by the German side of the exhibition's logistical staff, the Institute for International Relations (IFA) and the Goethe Institute, can be seen as classical. Even the viewers accustomed to more traditional art forms may be satisfied with the exhibition named "German Videosculpture since 1963."

The "museicity" of the exhibition is emphasized by its title, which invites the viewers to a facile comparison between contemporary and classical forms of art. This makes sense as any TV set is generally a sculpture in itself, but this is not totally accurate because a TV set is not only a sculpture. The museum-like approach is hinted to also by the exhibition's time frame: starting in 1963, when videoart pioneers Nam June Paik and Wolf Vostell exhibited their first pieces involving televisions (the current exhibition includes photographs of those already historical events) and up until the '90s, when video language became nearly the most popular language in the international artworld, holding on to this position to the present day despite competition from the Internet.

The pieces have been chosen in such a way as to include a very clear, simple, maybe even primitive idea expressed so directly as to get it across to the most uneducated observer. However, there are viewers totally impenetrable to such ideas-Ukrainian customs officers held up piles of equipment for about two weeks, because they couldn't believe that the equipment might be art rather than just banal household equipment. Well, videoartists too are ready to poke fun at this: half of the pieces in the exhibition were built around the effect of "wrong" use of that equipment. Paik made his Buddha meditate on the empty box of an old TV with a candle inside; he also made drawings showing how to build a funny robot from monitors. Riner Rothenberg placed a barrier in front of the viewer to prevent the viewer from seeing what's on the screen; Foster filled a monitor with concrete; while Wolf Kalen's "Irish TV" is just a rock whose shape and color resemble a television.

For some of the authors in the exhibition video is just an easy way to criticize the mass media. The most effective one in this sense is Ingo Gunther's "Guillotine". In order to fully appreciate the artist's idea the viewer-similarly to a fairy-tale hero-has to overcome his fears and put his head through the hole in the installation, whose scary look resembles an oven. The falling blade has been replaces by news footage showing all kinds of horror and catastrophe. Marcel Odenbah also pushes down the viewer's throat a similar kind of "political information;" his work is named "Swallow up, birdie, or else you die." They say that this piece makes an ever-lasting impact by its sound, but unfortunately the sound went off during the exhibition's tour to many countries, and therefore the artist's pacifist pathos has to be consumed in silence. Well, during the exhibition this was the only technical problem, which is a mere trifle for videoart as usually during such exhibitions at least one-third of exhibits don't work.

()The exhibition as a whole is somewhat unusual for the Tretjakov Gallery. Videoart in this area is usually harbored by private galleries, who can hardly find sponsorship for a couple of videoplayers. While in this exhibition there are at least one hundred monitors, to say nothing about wide rooms and old ladies who work as supervisors. If this goes on, they could be replaced by their videoimages, which have been present so far in those rooms only as exhibits.

The Videoguillotine in the Tretjakov Gallery



.../ index


Project presentation

> Part I: participants

Alesencov / Melnic
Dragneva / Macari
Druta Veaceslav
Dulfan Dmitry
Scerbina Igor (Fazya)
Katchuk Gleb
Verlan Mark (Marioka Son of The Rain)
Petrelli Alexander
Rata Vasile
Tcaci Ion
Thomas George
Zilbershtein Isidor




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